After ex-Raytheon lobbyist and Deputy Defense Secretary nominee William Lynn received an ethics waiver exempting him from the President's Executive Order to restore integrity and ethics to government, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) reminded us that his committee has its own requirements for nominees:
The Senate Armed Services Committee will continue to insist that Mr. Lynn comply with a strict set of ethics rules that we apply to all nominees, including the requirement to recuse himself, for a period of one year, from any decisions involving his prior employer, unless specifically authorized to participate by an appropriate ethics official.
But today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing reveals that the Pentagon has violated the spirit, if not the letter of that requirement. During the hearing, Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) asked Secretary Gates whether there were areas where the Pentagon could save money without impacting force structures, particularly hammering him on the moneyed mentorship program first exposed by Tom Vanden Brook, Ken Dilanian and Ray Locker at USA Today. USA Today was able to identify 158 retired military officers that consulted for the Pentagon, 80 percent of whom had financial ties to defense contractors. In response, Gates announced a review of the program. And something we missed at the time, but were reminded of in his response to Senator Webb's inquiry, is that the review is being led by...Deputy Secretary William Lynn.
When OMB issued the ethics waiver for Lynn, they said it was because he was uniquely qualified for the position. It's troubling that it seems like part of what makes him so unique is that he can review the revolving door problem between the Pentagon and the defense industry from repeated personal experience.
-- Mandy Smithberger